Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

mination, often claimed by nations at war, is less excusable than that ferocity which hurries the savage from his native woods against the enemy of his nation. All that was noble, all that was brave, and all that was good in the Indian character, belonged to Powhatan. His name was known and revered among the American tribes from the ocean to the lakes; and by the English his skill in intrigue and his valour in war were not to be despised.

Sir George Yeardley having been appointed governor, arrived in Virginia in the year 1619. During this year six new members were added to the council, and one hundred disorderly persons were sent over as servants to the colonists. These unwelcome visitors were followed by a more agreeable cargo of a hundred unmarried females, designed to soften the labours of life, by mingling with them its conjugal joys.

In the following year a Dutch ship, with a cargo of negroes, arrived on the coast of Virginia, and commenced that detestable commerce that has entailed disgrace upon our national character.. .

CO

About this time (1621) the hostilities of the natives began to be attended by more serious consequences than the settlers of Virginia had seemed to expect. Opechancanough, if not the most powerful, was at least the most inveterate enemy that they had encountered since their arrival. His enmity grew with the colony, and he seemed to think that his own security depended on its entire destruction. This he had planned in his own mind, and the time at length arrived when the plan was to be put in execution with the same skill with which it had been devised. This plot was laid with the deepest cunning, and matured by the most profound dissimulation. The wily chief, while he endeavoured to inflame the enmity of the Indians against the colonists, tried no less to blind the watchfulness and lull the suspicions of the colonists against the Indians. While the planters, secure in this specious appearance of friendship, were beginning to taste the blessings of affluence and the pleasures of society, the enemy was aiming a blow no less fatal than unexpected. The Indians were drawn together with a secrecy, and the attack niade with a precision and celerity scarcely to be found in the movements of civilized armies.

On the morning of the 22d of May, 1622, the Indians, under cover of thick woods, approached the plantations of the English. In order to render their attack more unsuspected, those of the colonists who were found straggling from their homes were suffered to pass unmolested, after receiving from Opechanca. nough many marks of attention. About twelve o'clock the whoop of battle was heard, and the Indians in different parties, bursting from the woods and thickets, carried death through the defenceless settlements of the English. In less than an hour about three hundred and fifty men, women and children fell victims to the vengeance of the remorseless savages. The friendly discovery made by a converted Indian, in the service of one of the colonists, ap. prizing them of their danger, saved a part of the colony from ruin. The information was re. ceived in time to put Jamestown and the ad. joining plantations in a posture of defence.

[ocr errors]

. By this fatal stroke the number of the plantations was reduced from about eighty to only six; to wit, Paspiha, Shirley hundred, Flower de hundred, Kickotan, Jamestown and Southampton. Industry and business of every kind seemed to wither under the loss of colonial blood, and the dreary prospect of war and de. solation. The recent attack was too fatal to admit of immediate retaliation, and too wanton and cruel to be easily forgotten. During the succeeding year several expeditions were set on foot against the enemy, and were generally attended with success. The towns of the natives were burnt and their corn destroyed, while the slaughter of men, women and children showed a spirit of revenge that did not well correspond with a claim to civilization.

In the year 1624 the London Company, to which had been confided the direction of affairs · in Virginia, was dissolved, and the powers vested in it by charter reverted to the crown. A provisional government was immediately formed, consisting of a governor and eleven counsellors. Sir Francis Wyatt, who had been com

missioned governor in the year 1621, was continued in office, but having obtained leave to visit Ireland, sir George Yeardley was appointed to fill the vacancy made by his absence. • The colony had been much harassed for some time by the Indians, and an expedition was again undertaken and directed principally against Opitchapan, whose warriors dwelt on the Pamunky. The Indians were defeated in a battle and a number of them slain. The Eng. lish destroyed their huts and provisions, and returned, setting fire on their way to the long grass and underwood that served to conceal the approach of the enemy.

On the death of sir George Yeardley, in the year 1627, the council elected captain F. West to fill the vacancy. During the succeeding year, above one thousand emigrants from Europe arrived in Virginia. This great accession to the population of the colony serves to show the estimation in which the new settlements were held in Europe, and the inducements that colonial prosperity must at this time have afforded to adventurers.

« AnteriorContinuar »